Back of the Garden Plants

sundflowerI’m kind of a wild gardener.  I like the controlled chaos.  I want to have a garden that lends itself well to nature.  Birds, bees, bugs, cats, dogs, humans, I want them all to enjoy it.  Living in Chicago, if I wanted a completely natural Midwest garden, it would be filled with prairie natives.  I do have some, but I need those tropical annuals to make the garden pop!

My next quest for “new seeds to try,” I’m looking for back of the garden plants, the tallest plants.  The ones that will transform your yard from, “oh, cute little garden” to “oh, my god, you’ve really got a garden here!”  The tallest are always in the back.

Amaranth is IT (for me) this year!  It’s tall and it’s a super grain, packed with protein,  for either me or the birds.  There are several varieties in burgundy and orange.  Considering I’d like tall, 6 feet, I’m selecting Golden Giant, from Baker Creek.  Another tallish amaranth is Love Lies Bleeding, 3-5 feet with pink-purple cascades of flowers.

Either of these will work nicely with sunflowers and milkweed, two plants that I find are essential to a garden.


elephant earAll of these guys need full sun. I have a unique situation in my yard.  Like most city gardens, my yard gets shaded by a tall building.  So, I go from complete sun, and then almost complete shade (depending on the height of the sun in the sky throughout the growing season).  For a large background on the shady side, I plant elephant ear.  You can order tubers in colors of green or purple (almost black) shades.  They are great in larger containers or in the ground.  At the end of the season, the tubers will have multiplied, making it easy for you to dig up and have many more plants the following growing season.  I started with one little round tuber, now, I’ve got elephants growing out of my ears…ha ha…get it?

Stay tuned, more to come.

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